28 June, 1878: General Oliver Howard, commanding the Department of the Columbia, now faced the second war in as many years in a department that had been quiet for a decade. Captain Reuben Bernard had taken to the field from Fort Boise on May 31 with a detachment of the 1st Cavalry, the 4th Artillery, and the 21st Infantry Regiment into action.
Howard came east to Fort Boise to observe operations himself, and to attempt a peaceful settlement of the growing conflict. He even enlisted the venerable Chief Winnemucca of the Paiute and his daughter Sarah in an unsuccessful effort at negotiations.
During the last week of June, Captain Bernard trailed, located, and attacked Egan's force on Silver Creek in southeastern Oregon with three companies of 1st Cavalry on the morning of June 28. Bernard surprised them, forcing them to abandon their camp for defensive positions in the hills. He was unable to dislodge them, and the battle turned into a stalemate in which the two sides traded shots through most of the day. At the end of the day, both sides withdrew, with Bernard having lost three men killed in action, and Egan at least five. Egan himself had been wounded, and a mercurial shaman known as Oytes took over his leadership role.